The Union Jack is one of the most notable symbols in the world. It is used across dozens of flag designs and represents very old ties to the British Empire, the place where the design originated. Although the British Empire is a lot different today, the Union Jack still represents the country and continues to be a symbol of relationship, whether new or old, for those that incorporate it in their flags. Let’s take a look at the Union Jack and see the flags around the world that use it. Additionally, we’ll learn a quick history of the Union Jack and how it’s used today.
A Quick History of the Union Jack
The Union Jack, also known as the Union Flag, is the national flag of the United Kingdom. It is a combination of the flags of three countries within the UK: England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. The flag has a long and complex history, with its origins dating back to the early 17th century.
The Union Jack was first used in 1606 when the flags of England and Scotland were combined following the union of the two countries under James VI of Scotland and I of England. The flag consisted of a blue field with the cross of St. George (the patron saint of England) superimposed over the cross of St. Andrew (the patron saint of Scotland). Over time, the Union Jack underwent several changes. In 1801, the flag was modified to include the cross of St. Patrick (the patron saint of Ireland) after the Act of Union united Great Britain and Ireland. The current version of the Union Jack, which includes red, white, and blue stripes, was officially adopted in 1801.
The Union Jack is used as a component in the flags of several countries around the world that have a historical connection to the United Kingdom. For example, it is featured in the flags of Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Tuvalu, and several other countries. In these cases, the Union Jack represents the country’s colonial or constitutional history with the UK. It is also used in the flags of territories that are still under British rule, such as the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands. The Union Jack is a symbol of the shared history and cultural ties between these countries and the UK.
National Flags that Use the Union Jack (Commonwealth Nations)
The flag of Australia consists of a blue field with the Commonwealth Star in the lower left corner and the Southern Cross represented by five white stars in the upper right corner. The Commonwealth Star is a seven-pointed star, with each point representing one of the six states of Australia and the territories. The Southern Cross is depicted by five smaller white five-pointed stars arranged in a circle around the larger star. The flag also includes the Union Jack in the upper left corner, which represents the country’s history as a British colony and its constitutional ties to the United Kingdom.
The flag of Fiji consists of a light blue field with the Union Jack in the upper left corner and the national coat of arms in the lower right corner. The Union Jack represents Fiji’s history as a British colony and its constitutional ties to the United Kingdom. The national coat of arms features a shield with the emblems of Fiji’s four traditional regions: a coconut palm tree, sugar cane, bananas, and a dove. The shield is supported by two Fijian warriors and is topped with a traditional Fijian headdress.
The flag of New Zealand consists of a blue field with the Union Jack in the upper left corner and four red five-pointed stars arranged in a cross in the lower right corner. The Union Jack represents New Zealand’s history as a British colony and its constitutional ties to the United Kingdom. The four red stars represent the constellation of the Southern Cross, which is a prominent feature in the night sky in the southern hemisphere.
The flag of Tuvalu consists of a light blue field with a map of the nine islands depicted in the center of the flag using nine yellow stars. The light blue color of the flag represents the ocean, which surrounds Tuvalu and is an important part of the country’s culture and way of life. The nine yellow stars represent the nine islands that make up Tuvalu. The flag also includes the Union Jack in the upper left corner, which represents Tuvalu’s history as a British colony and its constitutional ties to the United Kingdom.
The flag of the United Kingdom, also known as the Union Flag or the Union Jack, consists of a blue field with the cross of St. George (a red cross on a white background) superimposed over the cross of St. Andrew (a white saltire on a blue background). The flag also includes the cross of St. Patrick (a red saltire on a white background), which represents Northern Ireland. The Union Flag is a symbol of the United Kingdom and its constituent countries: England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.
This is the origination of the Union Jack.
British Overseas Territories (BOTs)
Aside from independent countries with ties to the United Kingdom, there are many overseas territories that are directly ruled by the UK. As such, the Union Jack is represented on the flags. These territories include:
- Akrotiri and Dhekelia
- Ascension Island
- British Antarctic Territory
- British Indian Ocean Territory
- British Virgin Islands
- Cayman Islands
- Falkland Islands
- Pitcairn Islands
- South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
- Tristan da Cunha
- Turks and Caicos Islands
- Saint Helena
New Zealand Overseas Territories (Realm of New Zealand)
New Zealand also has overseas territories that are considered part of the Realm of New Zealand. These territories use the Union Jack and include:
- Cook Islands
- Ross Dependancy
Provinces, Territories, and States
Outside of direct rule, some other provinces, territories, and states use the Union Jack as a way to recognize their ties to the United Kingdom, whether recently or hundreds of years in the past. Here are some examples of places that use the Union Jack on their local flag:
- British Columbia
- Newfoundland and Labrador
- New South Wales
- South Australia
- Western Australia
- Somerset County, Maryland
- Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania
Even further, some cities have the Union Jack represented on their flags. Here are three notable examples of cities that incorporate the Union Jack on their flags:
- Baton Rouge, Louisiana
- Taunton, Massachusetts
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- , Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_and_territories_with_the_Union_Jack_displayed_on_their_flag